Following a dispiriting defeat in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District wherein Karen Handel defeated Jon Ossoff despite his millions of dollars in out-of-state contributions, Democrats are doing some soul-searching. Among the most vocal is Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) who has challenged House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to lead their caucus.
When Ryan was interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN on Wednesday, he criticized the Democratic Party’s brand, Pelosi, and the party’s approach to identity politics.
Ryan said “We have Donald Trump as president now. We’ve done something terribly wrong to make that so. And we’ve lost traditional Democratic voters who don’t see us connecting to them.” With many families that are “struggling,” Ryan said Democrats are not focused on issues such as jobs. Lemon asked ‘Where were you? Why didn’t you guys stand up then and say something?”
Ryan reminded Lemon that 2016 was a presidential election year, and said:
"Some of that message just didn't get through. I think we got too distracted. I think we've got too many consultants telling too many candidates that you talk to black people about voting rights, you talk to brown people about immigration, you talk to LGBTQ people about issues that affect them directly. We lost the general message -- the economic message -- in which it would help all of those people. Gay people want a job, black people and brown people, they want a job. But if we talk to them like they’re just a slice of the electorate, we're doing them a very big disservice. But I think that has been the Democratic mode last two years..."
At this point, Lemon interrupted, "You're not suggesting not reaching out to those groups and people, are you?" Ryan rushed to respond, saying animatedly, "No, I'm all for it. I'm a huge advocate for voting rights. I'm a huge advocate for immigration reform. I'm a huge advocate for the LGBTQ community. I was in the Gay Pride rally that was in Washington DC with my wife and my three-year-old son a week or two ago.”
When Lemon asked whether by reaching out to voters would mean that Democrats would either not reach out to the groups he mentioned, or reach out to all possible supporters, Ryan said, that there is “great synergy in a campaign that pulls together all of those groups” and if “Democrats are in office, we are going to create opportunity” for “working class people, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, LGBTQ community, Human Rights Campaign, all of these different groups can come together.”